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Mads Mikkelsen is the one reason why I watched this, I would usually stay away from costume dramas around royal families, even if the approach is a bit more interesting than usual. Mikkelsen plays the physician Struensee who is called to the court of Denmark to tend to the pregnancy of the newly and unhappily married Queen. Those two enlightened people get along much better than the Queen with her sick and simple husband, and relationship complications ensue…

What’s interesting about the film is not the tender romance between to people of letters, but the intrigues around the Danish court, the strategic positioning of a liberal physician amidst a flock of conservatives and revisionists, a battle for education and enlightenment, and a tale about the weakness of the king against his bureaucracy. The film, directed by Nikolaj Arcel, who was the screenwriter for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, does not compromise or beautify things, it is quite sober about life at court, the possibility to battle the establishment and the degenerate nature of royal systems in general.

All this circles around Mikkelsen – with a lesser actor the production could easily have fallen into a Merchant / Ivory trap, but he has the face and stature as well as the seriousness to represent a silent fighter, lover, and intellectual (maybe that order is wrong, or maybe it changes at some point). It is quite astonishing how Mikkelsen can in a very short period of time pull off this performance and his even more terrific part as suffering next-door neighbour in “Jagten”. He is one of the great actors of our time!

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